February 4, 2010. The sun was shining brightly through our back window as we got up. We took Maggie and Rico out for a long walk. It seemed much warmer this morning. After our long walk, Joyce and I decided to visit the U. S. Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin A.F.B. We had passed through the panhandle in October, but had not been able to visit the museum. So, I was looking forward to visiting today.
We made a point to take a couple diversions and ride through the campgrounds at Topsail Hill Preserve State Park and Henderson State Park. First we came across Topsail Hill Preserve State Park. The park ranger at the gate gave us a pass and a very nice glossy brochure of the park. We drove through admiring the paved campsites, the pool and all the amenities of an R.V. resort. However, we couldn’t see paying $42 a night in comparison to the $33 we are paying at Grayton Beach State Park. There were plenty of campsites available.
Our next stop was Henderson Beach State Park. The ranger at the gate gave us a scrap paper pass and a black and white sheet of paper with a map of the park. She told us that in order to get a site at their park, we would need to make a reservation 11 mos. in advance as they are constantly booked. Their price is the same as Grayton Beach, $33 a night. Even so, we took a ride through their campground. It appeared to be very nice but again comparable to the other state parks in the area. The only apparent difference is the park’s proximity to the busy streets and shops of Destin.
Joyce is a Thai food junkie and when she discovered last night that there was a Thai restaurant in Destin, she insisted that we go there for lunch. I really don’t care for Thai but, I enjoyed the meal.
In the early 80‘s, I had been stationed at Eglin A.F.B. and Joyce and I lived in Ft. Walton Beach. Traveling on US 98 through Sandestin, Destin, Fort Walton Beach and the other adjoining small towns we couldn’t help but think about how much the area had grown along with the associated traffic. We could hardly recognize the area along the beaches. We did however recognize the area where we had an apartment in Ft. Walton Beach. The apartment building itself had been renovated.
Before long we arrived at the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum. Admission was free with only a donation box
Some military personnel were gathering inside the museum for a retirement ceremony. However the museum was still open to the public. We felt awkward trying to look around with such a momentous personal celebration about to occur around us, so we took a quick look inside before the ceremony got started.
Joyce struck up a friendly conversation with the clerk in the gift shop. The clerk, a retired military spouse from England, was very amicable and talkative. She told us that the museum hosts retirement celebrations frequently. Outside we walked through the many U.S.A.F. planes, helicopters and aviation equipment.
When I was stationed at Eglin A.F.B., I was assigned to the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing and The Fighting Crows 60th Aircraft Generation Squadron in support of the Fighter Squadron.
This plane would have been the Wing Commander's plane. The tail has the colors of each squadron; black, yellow and red. It was also assigned to Eglin A.F.B. and the 33rd Tactical Fighter wing.
Looking at the F-15 and hearing the roar of jet engines from the skies around the base sure brought back memories.
The museum is worth a visit if you are in the area. However, it pales in comparison to the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola Naval Station. We stopped there in October, 2009. The U.S. Air Force also has a national museum, The National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson A.F.B. in Ohio. I hope to see that sometime down the road!
On the way home, we stopped at a Super Walmart in Destin for groceries. A storm was expected over night and the winds had really picked up. Traffic was certainly building as we approached the rush hour.
After getting home, the winds continued to build. Our bikes blew over and the satellite dish was jarred loose causing it to loose the satellite. I went ahead and laid it down on the ground. So it looks like I’ll get to play with getting it aligned again after the storm!